Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Armenian Fighters

Below is my latest batch of figures. They are meant to represent Armenian fighters during the early part of the war over Nagorno Karabakh in winter garb. Later fighters would have more camouflage. To prep these I did a lot head swaps. I would have done less had I had a pack of Rolf's multipurpose figures with fur caps, but I didn't have any of those left and I had spare ushanka heads to use. RH Models new multi-purpose pack with bald heads and bare heads with beards came in handy. I wanted one of these figures to have a hat I've seen many pictures of (see below). It looks like a hood without a jacket. To create this hat I trimmed a brim off one from another pack and filled it in a bit. I carved off some pants pockets and some equipment too.

After the figures were prepped I went to work with my trusty green stuff. A lot of these figures got jacket extensions and big collars. The figure with the hood had his hood extended. My biggest leap forward was with the sculpted hair (or lack thereof). To accurately depict soldiers of this conflict I need figures with lots of facial hair with all manner of hats (and not hats) and since many middle-aged men were involved in the conflict guys with thinning hair.

When choosing paints I went with a flesh color that was slightly darker than my usual color and stuck with dark colored hair. I mixed up lots of varieties of khaki too, some yellowish, some brownish, etc. I've got a big cheat sheet of my mixes for next time. I even got to use my bright yellow to paint one of the camouflage jackets - I'm just not sure where this jacket would blend in.


RH Models MULT*AK with head swap; MULTBHRPG; MOSCOM


RH Models MULT*AK with head swap; EERKESTAK; EER14

RH Models MULT*RPK with head swap; MULT*AK with head swap; MULTBHAK; MULT*AK with head swap

RH Models MULTBHPKM; MOSAK; *SA7 with head swap

This last figure is my 20mm rendition of Monte Melkonian (1957-1993) in winter clothing. To quote Wikipedia Melkonian was an American born "Armenian left-wing nationalist militant, revolutionary, and commander. He was the leader of an offshoot of the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) in the 1980s and the most celebrated commander during the Nagorno-Karabakh War in the early 1990s. I highly recommend a biography his brother wrote My Brother's Road, An American's Fateful Journey to Armenia.

RH Models MULT*COM with head swap

Below are a few of the images that inspired me.

Armenian volunteers display homemade RPGs (January 19th, 1990).

Armenian fighters in the Agdam Region (1992).

Armenians aboard aircraft with coffin (~1992).

Armenian fighter in village of Askeran (March, 1992).

Armenian firing PKM (March 6th, 1992).

Monte Melonian with fellow Armenian fighters (March 1993).

Monte Melonian (March 1993).

Armenian fighters evacuate wounded (~1992-1993).

Armenian solider holds modified machine gun (~1992-1993).

Armenian soldiers preparing positions in the mountains while transporting a Dhsk heavy machine gun (January 1992).

Armenian fighter near Nakhchivan (January 8th, 1992).

Armenian transporting SA-18 during the winter of 1993.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

A few days ago I finally finished a big bunch of figures I have been painting. I decided to try to paint an entire squad at once - twenty-three figures. I'm not so sure it was a good idea to work on that many at once especially with the many modifications I did with these and all of the different camouflage schemes, but it is hard to stop oneself sometimes.

This group is meant to represent a SOBR unit of the 2nd Chechen War. The photos that inspired me are below. Modifications included lots of head swaps, cutting off of arm pockets and leg pockets, replacing back pockets with new three horizontal pockets and sculpted hoods and big collars. It took me five nights are so to sculpt all of this with my trusty green stuff. Uniform camouflage schemes include woodland BDU, winter SMK, spring SMK, winter tiger, bright spring tiger, dark spring tiger, reverse winter SMK and very faded winter tiger (those are the names I give them in my head anyway). For their assault vests I stuck with just three patterns: spring tiger, urban tiger and some sort of woodland that I haven't named yet. I also tried my first attempt at finger-less gloves and a soldier with a shaved head. 20mm sure is a great scale - any smaller and it'd be impossible to paint decent representations of some of these camouflage schemes while any larger it'd be tough to get away with painting on details like finger-less gloves.

Next up I'm taking a break from all of the camouflage painting and painting a big batch of winter Armenians suitable for the war in the Karabakh. Lately I've been reading a lot of books about Armenia and that has inspired me. I'm hoping a new set of progressive glasses (bifocals) help.

RH Models RUS25E; RUS21 with head swap; RUS20AK74* with head swaps

RH Models RUS26* with head swap; RUS20COME; RUS20AK74* with head swap; RUS25R

RH Models RUS20AK74* with head swap; RUS20E; RUS20BGE

RH Models RUS23* with head swap; RUS23E; RUS20COME; RUS23* with head swap

Russian Interior Ministry troops patrolling Grozny. (February, 1996)

RH Models RUS20AK74* with head swap; RUS20COME; RUS20E

This group of figures was mainly inspired by a great set of pictures I came across in a posting about Vladimir Mikhaylenko a Russian as part of a SOBR unit participated in 1st and 2nd Chechen war. These photos are from the 2nd Chechen war.

I was also inspired by these images.

Russian Special Police running in Grozny. (January 24th, 2000)

Russian Special Police keep watch in Grozny. (January 24th, 2000)

Russian Interior Ministry troops helping wounded comrade. (Grozny, January 28th, 2000)

Friday, November 10, 2017

This week I finally finished a set of figures I've been working for a while - modifications take a while. This set is meant to be Russians from the First Chechen War wearing the sphera helmet, VSR camouflage winter jackets and various vestments. Six of these figures sport black Kora body armor that I sculpted using green stuff. I think this was a cheaper alternative to the DB* series of body armor. In most pictures I've seen this is colored black, but I've also seen it in light blue and VSR (I'll do the light blue later, but the VSR type I might skip ... . not enough contrast). It was frequently used in the First Chechen War and sometimes during the Second Chechen War. The other figures have assaults vests with three bottom back pockets in three schemes urban BDU (grays, 1st War), brown SMK (1st War) and black (both wars). I gave all figures the jumbo faux fur color typical for the period and extended their shirts to turn them into winter jackets. Next up is a big batch (23) of Russian RIM troops for the 2nd Chechen War, lots of hoods, collars and pockets to sculpt and then some great camouflage schemes to mix and match. After that I want to revisit these great O helmet troops with some figures more suitable for the 2nd Chechen War - assault vests with different camouflage schemes and some jackets with Flora camouflage (like VSR, but horizontal). At some point I'll add figures to this group that have DB3/DB5 armor.

RH Models RUS20AK74O; RUS20COMO; RUS20AK74O; RUS20COM* with head swap

RH Models RUS21F; RUS23E


RH Models RUS20E; RUS25O; RUS26* with head swap

RH Models RUS20AK74O; RUS23B with head swap; RUS20AK74O

RH Models RUS20AK74O with head swap; RUS20BGO

The figures from this set are meant to join the white smock wearing guys I painted earlier as seen on the BTR-70 in the picture below.

Russian Interior Ministry troops patrolling Grozny. (February, 1996)

Russian check cars in Tolstoy-Yurt. (December 11th, 1994)

Russian interior troops cleaning up Grozny suburbs. (March, 1996)

Russian soldiers guarding road as civilians return to Grozny from Urus Martan region, March 22nd, 1995.

Russian soldiers guard the road to Chechnya in Khasavyurt on Chechen border. (December 31st, 1994)

Saturday, September 16, 2017

After the last two groups of miniatures I painted I decided I needed a break from camouflage painting so I chose to work on this group. Somehow some camouflage sneaked in there. :) I'm not entirely sure what the unit is, but some favorite pictures of mine show some supporting units, Russian, that operated during the Kizlyar-Pervomayskoye hostage crisis (January, 1996). They wore some different clothing I thought would be fun to paint. Most in the few photos I have show the group wearing an obscure Russian helmet known as a BSH-1, its similar enough to the Maska helmet RH Models makes so I went with that one.

RH Models RUS26 with head swap; RUS21* with head swap; RUS26H

I "made" the above navy blue winter coats by carving the bicep pockets off these guys, sculpting a big collar and adding a jacket extension. The white/snow pants don't have pockets so I carved those off too.

RH Models RUS20H; RUS26H; RUS20H with weapon swap

Two of these guys have a navy blue coats like the figures above. The other has an VSR camouflage Afghanka coat (the prototypical Russian outerwear of both Chechen wars). I converted this with a sculpted big fur collar and a jacket extension. I also did a weapon swap for the third figure - originally he had an AK74, but I chopped this off along with his hand and then glued an AKSU in its place and sculpted a new hand.

RH Models RUS20AK74O with head swap; RUS20H with weapon swap

I didn't do much to the first guy besides a head swap. For the second guy I swapped an AK74 for an AKSU like above (kept the old AK butt, chopped the hand and sculpted a new one). The first guy is my first attempt at Spring SMK camouflage (see below). The colors for these scheme can vary quite a bit. My favorite is the more green variety, but for this one Vallejo Canvas/Off-White, Canvas and German Gray with Off-White accents seems to work pretty well.
Russian special unit outside Pervomayskoye. (January 17th, 1996)
Russian Interior Ministry forces during the Kizlyar-Pervomayskoye hostage crisis (January, 1996)
Spring SMK Camouflage

Friday, September 1, 2017

Engineers and What Not

Just before vacation I finished a mixed batch of miniatures - it took me a while to gloss coat, matte coat and photograph them.

RH Models RUSENGH with head swaps and green stuff wires

To make these figures look a bit more like pictures I've seen of Russian engineers in Chechnya I swapped their helmet heads for these heads with earphones. I also sculpted on some headphone wires with green stuff - sure is tough to get those wires so thin. I'm not sure what the name of the metal detector on the left is called, but I found some pictures of it online in more modern use. The right metal detector is an IMP.

RH Models RUSGUNH with head swap; Elhiem Figures PL21

RH Models RUSGUNH with head swap; Elhiem Figures PL21

A post on The Guild pointed me to these great little German Shepards by Elhiem Figures. They are the first miniature animals I've ever painted. It was fun trying to get the fur colors just right, especially the blending. In the end I'm very pleased with the evening I spent on them. RH Models gunners make good stand-ins for all sorts of military personnel. If possible I wish all of his lines had similar figures - no weapons, little kit, standing around, etc. These figures originally had helmets on them, but I swapped on knit hats to make them fit my period a bit better. I suppose all four of these engineers would also look great with Panama hats for the Soviet-Afghan war.

RH Models RUSAK* with head swap

To beef up my winter Moldovan forces I painted up these two. I've got a big bag of bodies like these so it was a good chance to use two - such figures look great with bare heads, I think. They are done in the KLMK-like Spetsodezhda camouflage scheme.

RH Models USA18 with headswap; RUSGUNH with headswap and green stuff cap and beard

These two figures are meant to portray Aslan Maskhadov (1951-2005) the former Soviet artillery general who led the Chechen military effort of the first Chechen War, was elected president between the wars and was assassinated late in the second Chechen War. One picture, below, I've found of him from 1996 shows him wearing a PASGT flak jacket and a traditional Chechen hat. I couldn't resist making the unlikely union of an RH Models 1990s's US figure with a Cossack head. The other figure, a later portrayal of Maskhadov, is a Russian gunner, a swapped on bald head and a green stuff cap and beard. I'll have to get more proficient at sculpting beards like this (and bigger ones) to better depict my Chechen forces.


I also added four IED's to this batch ... I was painting up some sappers after all!
Russian sappers and dogs at Severny Airport, Chechnya. (February 16th, 2000)

Russian sappers looking for explosives at Severny Airport, Chechnya (February 16th, 2000)

Re-enactor with Russian mine detector.
Russian special forces at Khankala, Chechnya. (May 18th, 1995)
Russians searching vehicles in Grozny. (December 11th, 1995)

Checkpoint at entrance to Gagauzia(southern region of Moldova (December, 1991).
Shamil Basayev and Aslan Maskhadov conversing in Grozny. (January 30th, 1996)

Aslan Maskhadov, Chechnya, 2004?